FAIRBORN — The Butler boys basketball team traveled to Fairborn on Friday night in a highly anticipated match-up that featured one of the top scorers in the area, Fairborn’s Shaunn Monroe, versus a deep Butler roster without an obvious star.
After a first half shoot out that saw six ties and four lead changes, visiting Butler switched to a box-and-one defense that limited Monroe to just one second half point while a pair of Aviators went for career highs as the Butler cruised to a 68-53 victory.
Butler improved to 9-1 overall and 5-1 in Greater Western Ohio Conference play while the Skyhawks fell to 6-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play.
The Aviators were dialed in from the beginning. Michael Kreill, who would eventually drop 30 points on the Skyhawks, opened the scoring with a three pointer which was followed quickly with another three by Braedon Norman for a quick 6-0 lead. A pair of threes by Fairborn senior Tylen Eatmon tied the score at 8-8 midway through the first period and the teams settled into a patter of swapping baskets.
Fairborn tied the game three times in the first period but never led, but that changed a minute into the second quarter on a basket by Otis Person, III. The Skyhawks led by four at 24-20 after baskets by Monroe and Joe Nickel, but an 8-2 run over the final three minutes of the second period by Kreill and Tyler Montague gave the Aviators a 28-26 lead at the half, a lead they would never relinquish.
“We got out to a much better start tonight,” said Butler head coach DJ Wyrick. “I thought we took their best punch in the first half and handled it pretty well. We got good looks inside but weren’t finishing early and then spread them out in transition and attacked a little more.”
Any thought of a Fairborn victory was quickly erased as Kreill led the Aviators on a 7-0 run to open the second half that forced a Skyhawk timeout with 6:05 to play in the third quarter and Butler leading 35-26. Butler’s box-and-one defense designed to isolate Monroe was effective as the Fairborn star was limited to just one made free throw in the second half and 10 points for the game, well below is 26.5 points per game average.
“Going to that box-and-one in the second half frustrated them,” said Wyrick. “Our guys that were guarding him (Monroe) straight up did a pretty good job. We were physical with him. What they are really good at is offensive rebounding and we really stressed that all week. They had one at the half and got a few late, but we did a good job of blocking out and putting a body on them.”
Meanwhile, Kreill was unstoppable. Using a press to try to slow the Aviators, Butler broke the press time and time again leading to a layup on the other end, more often than not being finished by Kreill. When the Aviators set up in the half court, Fairborn found they couldn’t contain the crafty point guard who repeatedly found his way to the rim while scoring a career-high 30 points.
“Micheal was aggressive tonight,” said Wyrick. “He is talented – if he has a fault it is that he is unselfish and the ultimate team player. He tries to get his teammates involved. The funny thing about him is he guards the best player on the other team and then he’s supposed to score our points too. We took him off Monroe in the second period and you see what he did offensively.”
His efforts were aided by guard Tyler Montegue who also scored a career-high 12 points. Bryant Johnson added 13 points and Quentin Glover had 9 points.
Butler built their lead to as large as 20 points at 68-48 before both teams emptied their benches and settled on the final score.
The Aviators will host Stebbins on Tuesday before traveling to Trotwood-Madison on Friday. Both tips are set for 7:30 p.m.
Reach Darrell Wacker at (937) 684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.